Settled right in between France and Monaco, Villefranche is a small fishing village that exudes all of the charm and exquisite beauty that comes to mind when one hears the phrase “French Riviera”. This lovely town offers all the French atmosphere and charisma without the overwhelming crowds, including beautiful beaches, fantastic medieval structures, and intriguing art and museum displays. ShoreTrips is your ticket to this warm and welcoming strip along the Riviera!
Despite its small size, Villefranche has absorbed the international flair and cosmopolitan sensibilities of its frequent visitors. One of the premiere French schools is located in the city, the Institut de Français, as well as gorgeous lanes and walks for sightseeing and markets for shopping. Villefranche also hosts fantastic events, one of the most popular of which is the Bataille des Fleurs (Battle of the Flowers) during Carnival in February. The local fisherman decorate their boats in dozens of fresh flowers, throwing them at each other and the spectators as they row through the bay. The festival also features a parade on land with colorful costumes accompanied by live, local music.
Built by the Duke of Savoy, Emmanuel Philibert, during his reign between 1554 and 1559, La Citadelle defended the Gulf of Villefranche-sur-Mer. La Citadelle is also known as Fort St. Elme, and has bastions of varying heights facing the harbor, offering a spectacular view of the gulf. Today the walls of La Citadelle encompass the town hall, public gardens, and galleries displaying a variety of museum collections. One of these collections is the Fondation Musée Volti, a collection of sensual bronze statues by local artist Antoniucci Volti. Other collections in La Citadelle includes a gallery of modern art and the Collection Roux, made of hundreds of ceramic figurines that tell the story of life in medieval and Renaissance France.
A favorite escape for the influential filmmaker and writer Jean Cocteau, Villefranche benefited from the continued visits and patronage of the esteemed artist. He eventually persuaded the locals of the village to allow him to paint the eroding and neglected Chapelle St-Pierre, a 14th-century chapel dedicated to Saint Peter, one of the 12 Disciples. Cocteau took great pleasure and dedication in the task, creating more modern frescoes with images from his own films integrated in the religious symbols. Cocteau restored the interior of the chapel into a stunning display of modern religious art, like nothing the world had ever seen before.
Even though it is close to the tourist hub of Nice, Villefranche has many advantages for travelers that its larger neighbor sorely lacks: a quiet and sand-filled beach. Because the town is so small compared to Nice, fewer visitors crowd the tranquil village and waterfront, especially during the low season. The beach in Villefranche is always open to the public and free, but is also narrower than the beaches in Nice. The beach is separated into three different areas: the Plage des Marinières, Plage de l’Ange Gardien, and the Plage de la Darse. The Plage des Marinières is adjacent to the Nice-Italy train line, making it the least quiet area of the Villefranche beach. The Plage de l’Ange Gardien is significantly quieter and also pet-friendly for those looking to enjoy their beach time with their four-legged companions. The Plage de la Darse is the least congested of the beaches, due to the large rocks along the shore. However, Plage de la Darse also has no lifeguards and very few amenities compared to the other beaches.
Discover the Best of the Mediterranean with ShoreTrips
La Turbie, a 1st century BC Roman village well-known as the “Terrace” of Monaco, due to the splendid view it affords of the Principality. After La Turbie, you will be taken to Monte Carlo and The Golden Square where the famous Hotel de Paris, the Casino, the beautiful gardens and the luxury shops are located. Remember to bring your passport if you want to enter the Casino! This will be followed by a city tour, where you will be treated to an exploration of the old town on “The Rock”: the Prince’s Palace with the changing of the guard, the Cathedral, and the Princess Grace Memorial. Finish with a drive around the Grand Prix circuit!
Your adventure begins in Eze, a charming medieval village perched on the top of the mountain, rising high above the sea to give you a fantastic view. Eze is home to one of the branches of the renowned Fragonard perfumerie. Here you will get a guided visit of the factory, as well as a chance to shop at the factory store.
Your tour begins with a visit to the Ephrussi de Rothschild Museum. Your driver, who will also serve as your knowledgeable guide for the day, will give you a brief history of the museum and estate before letting you loose to wander about on your own. Soak up the history of the estate as you enjoy the gardens and the panoramic view that overlooks the sea on both sides of the peninsula.
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